Atlanta Hawks: Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson suspended for Game 4

The NBA suspended Hawks center Zaza Pachulia and Magic guard Jason Richardson for Game 4 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoffs series Sunday at Philips Arena.

Pachulia and Richardson were ejected in the fourth quarter of Atlanta’s 88-84 Game 3 victory at Philips Arena.

The incident started after Pachulia fouled Magic center Dwight Howard and Howard followed through with an elbow to Pachulia’s head. Pachulia screamed in anger as Richardson came over to confront him.

Pachulia headbutted Richardson twice as they stood face-to-face; Richardson retaliated by smacking Pachulia in the face. The league said the players were suspended for those actions.

“I got elbowed after the foul,” Pachulia said today before the suspensions were announced. “I was just trying to show [officials] that I got elbowed. That wasn’t right. Suddenly Jason Richardson came behind me. I don’t know what he thought. He came behind me and started talking and that’s when everything started.”

Pachulia said the headbutts were not intentional.

“I was talking to him,” he said. “Maybe first one or two [were] like manner of talking but third one was like big one. That’s a tough situation: nerves, tension high, people screaming and you are just losing yourself.

“Maybe you have got to be more careful but it is a very tough situation. Very few people can control themselves in that situation, especially when you guys know my character. It was tough.”

Pachulia’s suspension severely damages Atlanta’s efforts to defend Howard. Of the five players who have checked Howard this season, only Pachulia and starting center Jason Collins have managed to hold their ground against Howard’s powerful post moves.

Collins has been most effective against Howard but he’s likely to be slowed after suffering a bruised tailbone while drawing a charging foul on Howard in Game 3. Collins did not participate in Atlanta’s light practice on Saturday but said he would play in Game 4.

Atlanta’s other options to defend include forward Josh Powell and centers Etan Thomas and Hilton Armstrong. Coach Larry Drew has avoided assigning Al Horford to guard Howard because he wants to avoid foul trouble for Horford.

“We still have bodies,” Drew said before the suspensions were announced. “Will the bodies still be effective, that’s the question.”

Pachulia played 19 minutes in Game 2, including 15 relatively effective minutes guarding Howard in the second half. Pachulia also harassed Howard while playing 26 minutes in Game 3 as Collins was limited to 17 minutes in part because of the back injury.

During Atlanta’s 103-93 victory Game 1, Collins was limited to 17 minutes because of foul trouble. Pachulia played nine minutes, Powell eight and Thomas seven.

“From yesterday’s game you might think, ‘They need Zaza for Dwight,’” Pachulia said today. “But we have great players, professionals and I expect them to step up if I am out.”

Richardson’s suspension creates a dilemma for the Magic. He’s been the primary defender against Hawks shooting guard Joe Johnson, whose size has created match up problems for the Magic.

J.J. Redick is likely to replace Richardson in the starting lineup. He missed the final 17 games of the regular season with an abdominal injury and coach Stan Van Gundy said before Game 3 that Redick still is affected by the injury.

The other shooting guard options for Orlando include Gilbert Arenas and Quentin Richardson. Arenas didn’t play in Game 3 and Richardson has logged 35 minutes in the series.

Pachulia has given the Hawks a jolt with his energy and toughness but he’s also earned a reputation among opponents for being a physical nuisance.

Earlier this month Houston guard Kyle Lowry needed six stitches to close a cut on his lip after a collision with Pachulia that he called “a dirty play by him.” A trainer held back Lowry as he tried to go after Pachulia.

This is the second time Pachulia has headbutted an opponent during a playoff game. In 2008 he tangled with Boston forward Kevin Garnett.

“I’m not trying to be dirty,” Pachulia said. “I am out there to play basketball, not fight. But if it comes to that situation one thing know is I am never going to back down from anybody.

“It’s not something I am trying to fight or show you something or prove something. If I feel disrespected like that, I am [reacting]. That’s what happened. It might be bad thing but everybody has own personality and that’s my personality.”

189 comments Add your comment

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
3:00 pm

ACTIVATE MAGNUM

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
3:03 pm

oe better drop 35+ tomorrow

If Duhon is activated, I’d play Teague a bit if he gets in so that Hinrich gets some rest

MUST-WIN TOMORROW

If we lose tomorrow, we are !@#$ed

tbhawksfan

April 23rd, 2011
3:04 pm

You go Zaza.

Ant banks

April 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

Enter your comments here

K.W.

April 23rd, 2011
3:07 pm

Yeah but what about those elbows that Dwight Howard gets away with.

DunwoodySteve

April 23rd, 2011
3:08 pm

Suspensions hurt Hawks much worse than Magic. Hate to beat a dead horse, but I am so tired of watching Hawks take jump shots and not making Howard work on defense (thus keeping him out of foul trouble)!

James

April 23rd, 2011
3:09 pm

ZAZA is a playoff hero for the hawks. I will never forget the picture of him standing forehead to forehead with Kevin Garnett. Glad to see him playing with fire, I hope he isn’t still bothered by some of the trade rumors early this year. The fans always seem to appreciate him at games. Keep it up Pachulia!

ThrashersFan

April 23rd, 2011
3:10 pm

ZAZAAAAAAAAAAAA PACHUUUUUUUUUUUULIAAAAAAAAAAAA

Floze

April 23rd, 2011
3:11 pm

How is it that Dwight got a tech for nailing zaza but not a personal foul? That would have put Dwight at 6

Ant banks

April 23rd, 2011
3:11 pm

It’s called Heart and I’m glad someone on the hawks team has some. When bynum took out Michael beasley his teammates lauded him. Some teammates need to come out and suppport zaza. Has anyone heard from teammates?

JOSH SMITH FOR 3!!!

April 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

Stern protecting his paycheck, I mean players as always. Is Dwight’s elbow sore from all the offensive fouls?

CONservative Johnson

April 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

I wonder how many stories would be printed if the Magic had that many fans at a playoff game in Atlanta like the Bulls do in Indianapolis; or if the Bulls were to in the next round . . .

CONservative Johnson

April 23rd, 2011
3:14 pm

Floze, because it was technically after the play. The personal foul on Zaza ends the play (other than the ball going up) . . .

Ant banks

April 23rd, 2011
3:15 pm

FLOZE, fouls have to be called immediately. Can’t look at replay to access fouls, only technical fouls

Kapoonka

April 23rd, 2011
3:29 pm

Advantage Hawks! Let Dwight score all he wants…Joe is going to kill Redick and the Magic surely miss JR’s points….
Put Marvin on Dwight…he can spare the fouls.

REAL FANS STAND UP!!!

April 23rd, 2011
3:33 pm

ATLANTA HAWKS FANS MORE THAN EVER THE HAWKS NEED YOU ON SUNDAY AND BEYOND!! ZAZA SHOWED MORE FIRE AND COURAGE WITH HIS DEFENSE OF SELF AND TEAM. TIME FOR ALL OF THE OTHER “BIGS” TO MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES!!! ATLANTA HAWKS FANS >>>RISE UP !!!

steve

April 23rd, 2011
3:35 pm

This hurts the Hawks big time. Dwight will go off again.

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
3:38 pm

I’ve noticed every time ZaZa gets into an altercartion, his teammates just stand around. He is the only non-soft player on this team besides Hinrich and Damien

Texas Pete

April 23rd, 2011
3:40 pm

Dwight will go off again like in Game 1? I’ll take it. Dwight has never killed the Hawks. The rest of the Magic is what hurts the Hawks. I love how ATL has played this series. If not for our offense wanting to settle for jumpers all the time we’d be up 3-0 right now. Hawks still win this in 5 or 6.

Ant banks

April 23rd, 2011
3:40 pm

The hawks will win this series. They have a real shot at beating chitown too. The hawks could very well rep the east in the finals. Boston and Miami series will beat each otha up. Wow

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
3:41 pm

Need Collins to be as healthy as possible and for Etan to play (hope he’s doing okay).

Also need Hilton active and maybe even Magnum Rolle (LOL). Was Magnum signed at all for this year, or just next year?

doc

April 23rd, 2011
3:41 pm

figures, it is one way stern can exert his influence. jj will have to kill whoever guards him now. richardson bumped zaza from behind and lucky he didnt get more. why not howard as well? zaza has to protect himself as well as is going to be wary after getting an elbow in the neck. he has done less and been ejected before just not howard.

floze refs didnt want to see it. they couldnt ignore it on the screen.i imagine they didnt want zaza to be as right as he was.

Ant banks

April 23rd, 2011
3:43 pm

Mike woodson will never be a head coach again if hawks win this series. It will be an indictment on him.

Mac-Town #maconchevyrider

April 23rd, 2011
3:44 pm

From reading the comments of certain blogs and articles all around the internet these playoffs, I’m wondering how the Hawks and Magic performances against each other (2 teams thats have been in the playoffs several consecutive years) somehow prove the Bulls will have a breeze in the 2nd round, yet the Bulls performance against an under .500 Pacers teams proves nothing lol.

O'Brien

April 23rd, 2011
3:44 pm

With no ZaZa, Hawks will have to go hack a Dwight. And if thats the strategy, they need to wrap him up and not give up any And Ones.

If Dwight finishes with 45 pts again, so be it.

J-Rich’s suspension helps the Hawks, becuase they dont have anybody else who can guard JJ, so they will probably double him at times. JJ needs to be decisive with the ball, and either go quickly before the double comes, or pass the ball quickly out of the double team.

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
3:44 pm

How did Dwight not get suspended for that elbow? He got suspended vs. Philly and Kobe’s elbow suspensions a few years ago were extremely similar.

WTF?

Does the NBA want Orlando to win game 4?

And why is Collins so ineffective in this series compared to regular season?

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
3:47 pm

We cannot let Dwight establish position in the post. Gotta keep him as far out as possible. His hook shots are unstoppable

FIRE LD

Joe Tess Fish House

April 23rd, 2011
3:48 pm

Basketball is 4 loosers

john

April 23rd, 2011
3:55 pm

We know Collins will bring the same intensity and commitment to guarding Howard in the paint. Hopefully Etan will play with passion and step into Zaza’s shoes and give the crowd another thrilling victory. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson need to both score 20+. I want to see Josh Smith take it to Dwight Howard as a first option, and not settle for a long range jumper. More importantly, I want to see Josh Smith make smart decisions when he does attack Howard and dish off to his teammates once Howard commits. Howard can’t block shots with his back turned. Can’t let him stay in his comfort zone.
Last night’s game was incredible to watch. Even my girlfriend who hates basketball was jumping up and down on the couch. incredible game. KEEP IT UP. GO HAWKS!!

Rufus1

April 23rd, 2011
3:56 pm

“Mike woodson will never be a head coach again if hawks win this series. It will be an indictment on him”- Ant banks

Co-sign

We have a very good chance to make it to the ECF, because the Bulls are the Magic, with less shooters.(One dominant superstar)

Doles

April 23rd, 2011
3:58 pm

Pachulia is one of the dirtiest players in the league, his headbutts were 100% intentional. I’m not a fan of either team…I’m a Celtics fan, but if I was Orlando, I would take my least played bench player and tell them to punch Pachulia in his face.

ZAZA Sucks

April 23rd, 2011
3:59 pm

Zaza sucks just like his restaurant. Trade him and get him and his terrible food out of town.

Mac-Town #maconchevyrider

April 23rd, 2011
4:01 pm

Rufus1

April 23rd, 2011
3:56 pm

“Mike woodson will never be a head coach again if hawks win this series. It will be an indictment on him”- Ant banks

Co-sign

We have a very good chance to make it to the ECF, because the Bulls are the Magic, with less shooters.(One dominant superstar)

……………………….

I like our chances against them better than ORL.

Jeff

April 23rd, 2011
4:03 pm

Let’s hire Tree Rollins for a game

mykhalc

April 23rd, 2011
4:06 pm

i only wish the Hawks had the smarts to take advantage of the suspensions. knowin’ this team they’ll allow QR to go for 30 pts…

I MUS WRITE

April 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

Dwight Howard is slowly becoming a cheap shot artist. Get under his skin with good defense and he loses it. Is Al Horford that much better than Brandon Bass? Jamals shot to win the game speaks for itself- Joe johnson- Sigh……………………………..Props to LD for finally pulling Josh- He almost cost us the game with those dumb shots. I think our players ignore LD alot – he kept saying go to the rim and dont settle for jumpers, and soon after its bombs away SMDH…

Teague should hv played a few more minutes ….pacers going HAM right now. They will be a problem in a year or two. Hibbert with the block on Rose git that ish outta here

ICEMANcometh10

April 23rd, 2011
4:08 pm

Hey Doles

I guess you are a fan of Kevin “DIRT MOUTH” Garnett?

O'Brien

April 23rd, 2011
4:11 pm

From ESPN.com;

Although the Hawks managed to win Game 3, Atlanta has gotten progressively worse at shooting jump shots during their series with the Magic. After shooting 51.4 percent (19-37) on jumpers in Game 1, the Hawks made only 42.0 percent (21-50) in Game 2, and 32.6 percent (16-49) Friday.

However the Magic have not been able to capitalize as they have shot poorly throughout the series as well, particularly from behind the three-point line.

Orlando made just eight of its 28 three-point attempts (28.6 percent) and have now shot under 30 percent from three-point range in each game of this series..

I know Orlando has missed some shots they normally make, but I think the Hawks are also making it tough on them.

moboman

April 23rd, 2011
4:14 pm

NBA definitely wants Orlando to win game 4. Zaza gets suspended, Dwight gets nothing for inciting the whole incident. Zaza was only going to complain to the ref, and Richardson jumps in his face. Why Zaza gets punished for reacting to Richardson and Dwight doesnt even get a fine is beyond me. But Zaza was foolish to risk suspension by headbutting, knowing how important he is in this series.

Roach

April 23rd, 2011
4:14 pm

Shame this isn’t baseball. Appeal to delay the suspension until Game 5, back in Orlando. Go all out to win Game 4 here, then just need 1 more somewhere.

Rufus1

April 23rd, 2011
4:15 pm

Mac-Town #maconchevyrider

“I like our chances against them better than ORL.”

I agree because we could pack the lane against the Bulls and force them to shoot jumpers.

Rufus1

April 23rd, 2011
4:17 pm

OB,

Are the saying the same thing about the Bulls?….Making excuses gfor their wins.

The U

April 23rd, 2011
4:17 pm

The obvious answer is that JJ has a huge skill and height advantage should Riddick starts the 2 position. The qustion is will an game plan designed to take advantage of the mismatch ? will the JJ trust his teammates when the Magic double him while helping Reddick ? will the other hawks make themselves a cutting lane to the basket when JJ is doubled ? or will the other hawks stand on the perimeter and watch the double waiting for their precious pass and jump shot ? inquiring minds want to know how will the hawks respond to this advantage ?

superiorblogman

April 23rd, 2011
4:21 pm

Bad news now the guards will just jack up more bad shots.

Flint Tropics Ball Boy

April 23rd, 2011
4:33 pm

What is up with Josh Smith shooting 20 Foot Jumpers?????? He needs to DRIVE the lane. After LD called a TO and reamed them for lack of dribble and drive, JSMOOVE goes out and jacks up a 20 footer. JLOAF had at 4 of the Hawks 9 turnovers at one point. If LD doesn’t pull Josh, the Hawks don’t win..Josh is the one player that can be traded on this team, need to re-sign Crawford and for goodness sakes get a real 5 so that Al can get locked in at the 4.

SWAT Native

April 23rd, 2011
4:33 pm

I wonder if Etan Thomas will be back from the death in his family in time to play in game 4? Now they really need him.

Beast from the East

April 23rd, 2011
4:34 pm

Zaza should have clocked him if it was going to cost him a game. Get your money’s worth, Zaza!

Katie

April 23rd, 2011
4:37 pm

So will ZaZa even be allowed to be there tomorrow?

JeJe

April 23rd, 2011
4:39 pm

IF IT WASN’T FOR LD’S IDIOTIC, IGNORANT, AND INEXPLICABLE 2 FOUL RULE, WE’D BE UP 3-0 AND CLINCHING THE SERIES TOMORROW. INSTEAD, WE WILL PROB WIN IN 5 OR 6 AND CHI WILL BE WELL RESTED FOR US

TheAntiMe

April 23rd, 2011
4:40 pm

Zaza is the Hawks enforcer. For a team that often goes entire quarters and even games playing without any emotion – or more importantly, energy – Zaza brings a very much needed intangible to the table. I can live with an occasional suspension as long as it is only one game.